The real bottom line on client service is not technology or policy. It’s about one person with a problem talking to another who is supposed to solve it. At that point your technically advanced website, advertising, branding, or public relations don’t mean a thing!
Customers want to be heard, heeded and helped! Take the time to go over some of these basics:
1. Be professional – take pride in the work you do.
2. Be enthusiastic – positive attitude shows from beginning to end that you care about the person you are talking to.
3. Say “Hello!” – good morning or good afternoon. Have a warm greeting or opening – welcome people into the conversation. Don’t make them feel as if they are an interruption.
4. Be sure to smile – whether you are face to face or on the phone the other person can sense a smile from you.
5. Be courteous – politeness, show respect: friendliness, thank-you etc.
6. Use the right tone of voice – your tone and voice inflections will create an impression and help the person understand what you are telling them.
7. Understanding the Customer – you are treated as an individual with specific needs and requirements and a specific personality and way you like things done. Stand in the customer’s shoes (have empathy).
8. Reliability, consistency and dependability – get it right the first time and keep your promises.
9. Responsiveness and promptness – a sense of urgency. No waiting, delays, or queues.
10. Listen actively – stay focused, don’t interrupt or jump to conclusions, show you are listening through positive body language, eye contact, keeping notes.
11. Thank them – the customer’s time is valuable. Whether they spent money in your business or not, thank them for calling you and welcome them back.
“Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” John W. Gardner.
Dealing Democratically with Difficult Customers. Dealing with complaints is often challenging and upsetting. It is very natural to try to explain or justify what was done. The suggestions in this list are not easy to do in the heat of a situation. So when you hear a complaint about you or your business perhaps the best strategy is to count to ten and then do some of the following:
1. Listen – ask relevant questions. What is the real problem? Be empathetic, you are also a customer!
2. Don’t be defensive – work on building a sound, open and honest line of communication with your customer.
3. If you are at fault, fix it immediately or do what you can to satisfy the client and apologize – learn from mistakes and do not repeat again.
4. Don’t get angry, even if the customer is – be an empathetic listener. The customer is angry at the situation not you. And remember, as Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
5. For a more complex issue, research the problem before you make any decisions – get to the bottom of the complaint by investigating fully. Take time to work out a win-win resolution.
6. Look for lessons in the situation – assess the situation and formulate a plan. This may mean new policies or retraining of staff. The situation should not repeat itself.
7. Re-educate the client when necessary – why were expectations not met? Was information misunderstood or misinterpreted? Help the client to understand the process now to guard against future misunderstandings.
8. Know that if one client complained there are others feeling the same way – what do you need to do to address the problem with the others? Who else might have been affected in the same way?
9. Give the client choice of possible resolutions – make the problem ‘go away’ for the customer! Negotiate a win-win deal that has permanence.
10. Thank the client for helping you with your business – complaints assist building customer service excellence. Learn from mistakes and don’t let the situation reoccur.
11. Follow up with those who complained to be sure they are fully satisfied – let the customer be aware that they have been heard. Tell them what you have done.
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” Mahatma Gandhi
Kwelanga Training has offices based in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and presents public training courses at corporate venues in:
- Johannesburg – Southern Sun Hotel, Katherine Street, Sandton
- Pretoria – Southern Sun Hotel, Arcadia, Pretoria
- Cape Town: Southern Sun Hotel, Newlands
- Durban: Hilton Hotel, North Beach
- Port Elizabeth: Cherry Place, Walmer
On-site training can be presented at any location in Southern Africa, our facilitators will train at your premises
For further information contact:
Tel: +27 11 704 0720
“Shedding Light on Skills Development”